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Paedophile hunters and online grooming

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Dear North Wales Police,

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with these arrests:

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert number].

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to be a child.

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by your own officers acting as decoys.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to you by so-called paedophile hunters.

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Joe Purshouse (School of Law, University of East Anglia) has written a paper that seriously questions the activities of so-called paedophile hunters. It is titled: "'Paedophile Hunters’, Criminal Procedure, and Fundamental Human Rights".

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full...

"The muted response of the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and domestic courts to paedophile hunters is failing to deter their criminality. The article ends with suggestions for reappraisal of existing legal doctrines, law reform, and more rigorous enforcement to control and, in some cases, deter paedophile hunting."

Freedom of Information Team, North Wales Police

2 Attachments

Dear D Moore,

Enquiry Ref: 2021/006

I acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information request.

 

As set out by the Freedom of Information Act, it will be our aim to
respond to your request by 29/01/2021.

 

Although every effort will be made to ensure a response is provided within
statutory deadlines, due to current circumstances delays may be
unavoidable.  We apologise for any inconvenience and will endeavour to
process your request as quickly as is practicable.

If you have any questions regarding your request, please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

 

Megan Rutledge

Swyddog Hawliau Gwybodaeth/Information Rights Officer

Safonau Gwybodaeth a Chydymffurfio/ Information Standards & Compliance

Chyllid a Adnoddau/Finance & Resources

E.bost/ E.mail [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image002.jpg@01D4D9AE.42746C10[3]cid:image003.jpg@01D4D9AE.42746C10 

 

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg – byddwn yn ymateb
yn gyfartal i’r ddau ac yn ateb yn eich dewis iaith heb oedi. 

We welcome correspondence in Welsh and English – we will respond equally
to both and will reply in your language of choice without delay.

 

 

Please note: we will process your personal data (i.e. your name, address,
email address, your request etc.) to record and respond to your freedom of
information request/s and provide cross-government advice, support and
co-ordination in responding to freedom of information requests. This data
will be held for two years, plus the current year.

[4]https://www.north-wales.police.uk/access...

References

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4. https://www.north-wales.police.uk/access...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

I see the article by Joe Purshouse was first published on 17th June 2020, a month before the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of someone caught by 'paedophile hunters' :

[2020] UKSC 32

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2020...

See comment dated 15 July 2020:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Story from the Independent:

"‘Paedophile hunters’ do not violate right to privacy, Supreme Court rules as convict's appeal dismissed"

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr...

The Ghosts questioned this Wrexham man who was identified as a 'convicted paedophile'. The situation quickly became heated. The suspect allegedly wanted the 14-year-girl decoy to do something to herself with a hairbrush. He admitted serving time behind bars, though contested he was convicted of rape, and explained that he was allowed access to the internet to search for jobs.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/tQYnSZTx2...

More videos can be found here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

"'Paedophile hunter' evidence used to charge 150 suspects" (2017)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43...

"Strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse" (February 2020)

“Almost half of the online grooming cases emanate from the activities of online child abuse activist groups (vigilante groups), who are unregulated and untrained. A more robust proactive capability on the part of Police Scotland would reduce the opportunities for these groups to operate.” (page 5)

https://www.hmics.scot/sites/default/fil...

BBC Radio 4 programme The Untold goes on a "sting" with Leeds-based hunting group Predator Exposure:

"Six of the group went on trial accused of charges including false imprisonment and common assault. They were all found not guilty and emerged from Leeds Crown Court vowing to step up the work that they do."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000hv9p

See the group in action:

https://youtu.be/_gfRmagvltk

Useful information provided by South Yorkshire Police from the Force Disclosure Log:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Freedom of Information Team, North Wales Police

4 Attachments

Dear D Moore,

 

In response to your recent request for information, please find attached
our reply.

 

I have also attached a copy of our review procedure should you not be
happy with our response.

 

Regards,

 

Megan Rutledge

Swyddog Hawliau Gwybodaeth/Information Rights Officer

Safonau Gwybodaeth a Chydymffurfio/ Information Standards & Compliance

Chyllid a Adnoddau/Finance & Resources

E.bost/ E.mail [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image002.jpg@01D4D9AE.42746C10[3]cid:image003.jpg@01D4D9AE.42746C10 

 

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg – byddwn yn ymateb
yn gyfartal i’r ddau ac yn ateb yn eich dewis iaith heb oedi. 

We welcome correspondence in Welsh and English – we will respond equally
to both and will reply in your language of choice without delay.

 

 

 

 

Oeddech chi’n gwybod bod modd i chi gael mynediad i wybodaeth am Heddlu
Gogledd Cymru drwy Gynllun Cyhoeddi a Log Datgeliadau Heddlu Gogledd
Cymru?  Mae’r ddau ar gael drwy’r dolenni cyswllt isod:

 

Did you know you can access information about North Wales Police via the
North Wales Police Publication Scheme and the North Wales Police
Disclosure Log?  Both are available via the below links:

 

[4]http://www.north-wales.police.uk/accessi...

 

[5]https://www.north-wales.police.uk/access...

References

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4. http://www.north-wales.police.uk/accessi...
5. https://www.north-wales.police.uk/access...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Radio 4's File on 4 dealt with the issue of female sex offenders in "Women Who Abuse":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rcq5

The programme highlighted the case of a female groomer who was jailed in 2018. Details of her crime are available on the UK Database:

https://uk-database.net/2018/03/22/debor...

Thirty-six police forces responded to FOI requests (5th minute). The responses revealed that between 2015-19:

- there were over 10,400 reports of women sexually abusing children

- Over 5,400 reports concerned children aged 11-17

- around 3,800 reports involved children under 11

(some forces didn't provide information on ages)

A FOI request was also sent to the Disclosure and Barring Service. I have requested a copy of the response received:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

"There is evidence more female abusers are being flagged when applying for jobs with children or vulnerable adults than are being reported to the police."

The programme also referred to research by Dr Andrea Darling, who wrote this article on female teachers who abuse pupils:

https://theconversation.com/understandin...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

CPS legal guidance regarding paedophile hunters (July 2020). Paedophile hunting groups are referred to formally as online child abuse activist groups (OCAGs):

'The term OCAGs in this context refers to individuals or groups of individuals who are members of the public using on-line activity to uncover or "catch" alleged paedophiles involved in on-line child sexual abuse or interested in meeting children for the purpose of such abuse. A wide range activity may fall under this umbrella term...'

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/on...

'Police are encouraged to seek early investigative advice (EIA) in all OCAG cases using the EIA process available in each CPS area. This will assist officers to address any complex evidential issues, to focus their investigation and to bring to an early conclusion cases which are unlikely to meet the required evidential standard.'

Recently published Home Office report titled 'Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy'.

'This ground-breaking Strategy sets out the Government’s ambition to prevent, tackle and respond to all forms of child sexual abuse.

5. Our goal is to ensure there are no safe spaces online for offenders to abuse and exploit children. Across the NCA, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), National Cyber Force (NCF) and wider law enforcement, the Home Office will invest in the development of new technological capabilities to bring more technically sophisticated offenders to justice and help our partners identify and safeguard more victims and survivors. This includes enhancing the use of the UK’s world-leading Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

Dear North Wales Police,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of North Wales Police's handling of my FOI request 'Paedophile hunters and online grooming'.

First, I wish to thank you for the excellent table that you provided. Very informative.

However, I am not satisfied with your responses to Request 4:

Request:

'4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.'

Your Response:

'North Wales Police do not hold a specific list of all the names of ‘so -called paedophile hunting groups’. But this information would also not be disclosable under Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The information you have requested constitutes personal data of which you are not the subject and disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under the Data protection Act 2018 would contravene the data protection principles.

Section 40 is a class based exemption, therefore it is not necessary to evidence harm caused by disclosure

The data protection rights of a third party would be breached by disclosure, therefore section 40(2) is an absolute exemption and a Public Interest Test is not necessary. This is so because personal data is governed by another law (The Data Protection Act 2018) and there are two elements to this exemption.

All requests made under FOIA are applicant blind. A request must be treated as such and a public authority will always view any disclosure as into the public domain. Thus North Wales Police must be satisfied that any release of information will be potentially available to the general public. It is therefore on this basis that the following is relevant.

The first element of this exemption is engaged if the information requested constitutes personal data and is made by the data subject. The information will be covered by section 40(1) and the request will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act, rights of access.

The second element of this exemption is engaged if the personal data is about someone other than the applicant. Where someone makes an application for information other than the data subject, disclosure of that information will often constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act covered by section 40(2).Personal data is regulated under the principles of the Data Protection Act and when information contains personal data about a third party it can only be refused if disclosure would breach any of the data protection principles.

As previously highlighted, any disclosure under the FOIA is a public disclosure and release of the identity of an individual would breach principles 1 & 2 of the Data protection Act 2018.

These principles require that: 1) the processing of personal data for any of the law enforcement purposes must be lawful and fair and 2) the law enforcement purpose for which personal data is collected on any occasion must be specified, explicit and legitimate.

‘Data subjects’ are provided with certain legal enforceable rights under the Data Protection Act 2018. The fact that the information is held for lawful policing purposes, disclosing it onwards would breach the principles, and would be incompatible with the data subject’s right that their data is held securely. By disclosing this information, the force could be subject to enforcement proceedings under the act if it breaches any of those principles.

Therefore, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice under section 17 (1) of the legislation.'

I consider that the information requested is not personal data because it refers to the name of a group and not an individual. Even if the information constituted personal data, it is not of a nature which goes to the essence of anyone's personality or private life. Additionally, it is not evident from your response that you asked any group caught by my request whether they would object to their name being disclosed. If a group agreed to disclosure, then i do not see how section 40 could be engaged. Time and again paedophile hunting groups when conducting 'stings' stress the importance of sharing their videos, so that more people can see the faces of suspects and consequently more children can be protected. Publicity is the very thing that they want. Here is one example of a Wrexham suspect being questioned by a group:

https://www.bitchute.com/video/tQYnSZTx2...

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

Freedom of Information Team, North Wales Police

2 Attachments

 

Dear D Moore

Enquiry Ref: 2021/006
I acknowledge receipt of your review request. It will be our aim to
respond to your request by 19/02/2021.

If you have any further questions or queries, please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Ceri Hollingworth

Safonau Gwybodaeth a Chydymffurfiaeth/Information Standards and
Compliance                         

E.bost/ E.mail [1][email address]

 

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg - byddwn yn ymateb
yn gyfartal i’r ddau ac yn ateb yn eich dewis iaith heb oedi.

 

We welcome correspondence in Welsh and English - we will respond equally
to both and will reply in your language of choice without delay.

 

[2]NWP-Block-Signature[3]cid:image003.jpg@01D4D9AE.42746C10

 

 

References

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Freedom of Information Team, North Wales Police

4 Attachments

Dear D Moore,

 

In response to your recent request for a review, please find attached our
reply.

 

Although your original response has undergone the review procedure within
North Wales Police, you do have the right to contact the Information
Commissioner.

 

I have attached a copy of our review procedure should you not be happy
with our response.

 

Regards,

 

Ceri Hollingworth

Safonau Gwybodaeth a Chydymffurfiaeth/Information Standards and
Compliance                         

E.bost/ E.mail [1][email address]

 

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg - byddwn yn ymateb
yn gyfartal i’r ddau ac yn ateb yn eich dewis iaith heb oedi.

 

We welcome correspondence in Welsh and English - we will respond equally
to both and will reply in your language of choice without delay.

 

[2]NWP-Block-Signature[3]cid:image003.jpg@01D4D9AE.42746C10

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are D. Moore please sign in and let everyone know.